“It Could Always Be Worse”

Disgusting, this day. At least, a chunk of it. Almost, I might even say, one of those “no good, very bad” days you’ve heard about.

Oh, but it could always be worse, someone says, rather unhelpfully. Well, of all people, Christians have the very best reasons to be optimistic and positive. But I hereby confess that I have some days when, to the cheery person assuring me that “it could be worse,” my reply might be, “I believe you. I don’t doubt that it could be worse. And I would not be at all surprised if that’s exactly where ‘it’ is presently heading.”

So thanks, my optimistic friend, for trying to cheer me up. But I already feel bad about how bad I feel, and now I feel even worse. Just give me a few minutes to feel good about feeling bad, okay? Go away.

I’m writing on a Sunday. By candlelight. I led worship this morning and preached, singing and teaching about the good news, the only news that ultimately matters. But I already knew that, at the end of the service, I would need to let our folks know that a couple in our church, folks we love deeply and they, us, would soon be moving out of town. We pray that it’s a wonderful new chapter for them. But when we talk about being “a family united in Christ,” we mean it. Or, to use the Apostle Paul’s metaphor, the church is a body with many parts. Bodies can indeed lose an arm or a leg and still function, but what body ever quits missing that part? So, a loving and lovely but bittersweet morning. That is not the disgusting part. And then . . .

Then we went out to eat with a good many of our church folks. Fun time, as usual. And then . . .

Then the blasted wind really cranked up. A predicted percentage of rain here rarely produces anything but mud on the windshield. But a prediction of wretched wind (that’s a meteorological term) never misses. The wind today has been as bad as I’ve ever seen it. Horrible. Unrelenting. Dirty brown. And did I mention “disgusting”?

There is never a good time for such, and, certainly, not today.

You see, our church steeple has been trying to leave the church, and we’ve been doing all we can to convince it to stay. After lunch today, I went back by the church, and that spire was starting to dance. Our temporary best-we-could-do fix was failing. No more options. All I could do was watch it teetering. I’d have given (sorry to say) less than even odds that it would hang on all day. I love to see it pointing toward the heavens, but we had a very good chance of watching a real “steeple chase.”

I stayed at the church for a while. Leaving would feel like abandoning ship. But I soon realized that nothing could be done. A good neighbor across the street promised to call if the steeple sailed. Feeling sunk, I drove home, cursing the wind.

For a while, I could see the steeple from an upstairs window in our house. Binoculars helped. And I could see it quite literally shifting angles. And then . . .

And then the wind increased, and I could barely see across our street. Horrible! I was expecting a steeple call at any moment. And then . . .

Then the power went out. In a power outage, even sane people will stumble into a room and flip the light switch. And, in a power outage, well, if your water comes from a well, you know that no power soon means no water. (You may need to explain this to big city dwellers.) This means, among other things, that you’ve only got one or two toilet flushes until you have no toilet flushes, so you take emergency measures and soon find that flushing is also an unconscious action. You also discover that battery power on phones, iPads, computers, etc., is not unlimited. You find that you should keep candles where they can easily be found. You find that rechargeable flashlights should be recharged more often. And you find that you quickly miss, as the old ads used to say, “the convenience of electric living.”

It really has been, in some ways, pretty close to being a “no good, very bad” and disgusting day. But here’s the thing. I have friends who are presently dealing with heartbreaking grief. I have friends dealing with cancer. And I often think these days about Ukrainians dealing with death and horror and living day in and day out in danger, perhaps in rubble and without power, all because a sawed off, putrescent little dictator with a massive inferiority complex thinks he can throttle them and thumb his nose at the world. (If allowed to, he won’t be the only thug encouraged by our weakness or naïveté to try such a play nor will he stop there.)

This day could be worse. Oh, yes, it could.

It’s still blowing. Still brown, dirty, and disgusting. Even the sound is horrible and relentless.

But the power just came back on. (I’m thankful for linemen and very thankful not to be one.) And my kids and grandkids are all well and safe at home. No bombs dropping on their heads.

And our steeple is still standing. Maybe it will make it through the night. We’ll soon know. But whatever happens, the One to whom it has pointed for decades is still the Father who loves us even on our worst days.

You’re invited to visit my website, and I hope you’ll take a look there at my new “Focus on Faith” Podcast. At the website, just click on “Podcast.” Blessings!

Copyright 2022 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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